Big trout on feeding frenzy in Neuse River area

Todd Willis of Neuse River Bait & Tackle snuck away from the shop and caught his personal best trout.

Multiple anglers have caught citation specks lately

Todd Willis of Neuse River Bait & Tackle reports that anglers are catching lots of nice speckled trout in the Neuse River. And while sneaking in a break from the shop here and there, Willis himself has landed some 5+ pounders. He landed his personal best earlier this month.

On April 6, Willis had an hour before dark after closing up the store. A storm had passed through and he decided to get on the water. It turned out to be a good move.

“I’m glad I made the decision to fish after the weather came through. I was able to land my new personal best speckled trout of 6.32 pounds. It was close to 28-inches long. It was an awesome fight, and the fish was released to swim another day,” said Willis.

He caught the fish on a Z-Man MinnowZ in Pinfish color, threaded onto a 3/16-ounce Eye Strike Trout Eye jighead.

Billy Urquhart stopped by the store to weigh in a 26 1/2-inch long trout last week. The fish weighed 6.64 pounds. Maurice Yelverton also brought a gator trout in to have it weighed. He caught a 25.5-inch long trout on a Z-Man MinnowZ in New Penny color. His fish weighed 6.29 pounds.

Z-Man lures, other artificials have been productive

Jimmy Hearne also caught a citation trout on a Z-Man MinnowZ. His fish was over 26 inches long and weighed 6.44 pounds.

Jimmy Hearne’s gator trout earned him a citation. (Photo courtesy of Neuse River Bait & Tackle)

A variety of Z-Man lures have produced a lot of big specks lately, but other lures and bait are also working. Mr. Bill Sloan, a loyal customer of Neuse River Bait & Tackle, was using a D.O.A. shrimp under a popping cork when he caught a 5-pound, 25-inch trout under a dock. Youth angler Buddy Bates caught a nice trout on a fly. And Capt. Brian Saunders of Victory Fishing Custom Charters put one of his clients on a 23-inch speckled trout using a custom color MirrOlure MR17.

Bill Sloan’s 5-pound trout is one of many trophy specks caught at the Neuse River lately. (Photo courtesy of Neuse River Bait & Tackle)

It’s always exciting for anglers to catch quality fish, and the trout are also biting in numbers. Jordan Williams, who works with Willis at Neuse River Bait & Tackle, fished with his granddad Gerald Armstrong and they caught over 40 fish on a short trip. This included a two-man limit of keepers. A second trip they took went just as well, with several trout that were almost citation fish.

Neuse River Bait & Tackle is located on Hwy. 55 East in Grantsboro, and is a convenient stop for picking up bait and tackle on the way to the fishing grounds, or to stop and have your trophy catch weighed while on the way home.

Click here to watch a video of Willis releasing his big trout.

About Brian Cope 2783 Articles
Brian Cope is the editor of Carolina Sportsman. He has won numerous awards for his writing, photography, and videography. He is a retired Air Force combat communications technician, and has a B.A. in English Literature from the University of South Carolina. You can reach him at